Reaching Disadvantaged Teens in the Midwest

February 14, 2024



For Immediate Release
January 15, 2024

Hamilton Strategies,, Daniel Moyer, 610.584.1096, ext. 104

Siouxland Youth For Christ is reaching disadvantaged teens in sprawling Midwest region

Karl Van Cura, Executive Director: ‘Through Siouxland YFC, teens are learning what it means to follow Christ’

SIOUX CITY, IA — For 80 years Youth For Christ (YFC, has reached young people with God’s love by walking alongside teens through pivotal moments in their lives. This mission compels YFC to seek out those on the fringe of society who are often overlooked and underserved.

One such area is Siouxland YFC, a chapter that serves a sprawling collection of communities in Northwest Iowa.

According to Executive Director, Karl Van Cura, “We minister in four counties (with plans to serve six), with Sioux City being the largest urban area. After that, we primarily engage with rural communities that run from 1,500 to 10,000 people. Because of this, we’ve transitioned from a county context to more of a regional but community perspective.”

Aside from the sheer scale of areas served, rural communities often pose unique challenges to the students living there.

Van Cura said, “We find that rural communities in our area are highly transient because it’s cheaper to live there. Parents will move from community to community, as a result of divorce or some other issue. So a lot of our kids are moving from school district to school district, from this community to that community. As a result, there are a lot of lost or broken relationships.”

To address this lack of consistent community, Siouxland YFC offers teen centers that provide students with a safe space to spend time with each other and ministry leaders.

Roxie Rahn, Ministry Director, said, “Our goal is to help young people get connected and experience community. We work hard at our teen centers to create a space for these kids, a place where they know, ‘Here’s your people, here’s the place where you’re safe, here’s a place where you’ve got people who are always going to know your name. When you walk in the door, we’re going to ask you about your day, ask you about your sick grandfather, ask you about your dad who’s in prison. We’re here to talk with you about your needs.’”

To help meet these students’ sometimes complex needs, Siouxland YFC has focused on equipping leaders with a basic understanding of a range of potential issues through their partnership with trauma care experts. They work with school counselors, local mental health experts, and other church and ministry organizations in their communities that provide trauma care. All of Siouxland YFC’s ministry leaders and volunteers feel better equipped to come alongside hurting teens and walk with them through the ups and downs of life. Ministry leaders are staying involved much longer than in prior years because they feel more equipped and trained to notice the behavior of a child who is struggling.

Rahn said, “We changed our onboarding process for leaders a few years ago, and now we provide volunteers with a range of basic training in issues such as handling trauma and suicidal ideology. As a result, volunteers say they feel more equipped. We’re seeing leaders stay with us longer. We’re seeing them be creative, getting involved and taking ownership of ministries. We’re seeing them build authentic, Christ-sharing relationships with kids that feels organic.”

While Siouxland YFC meets students right where they are, it is also committed to teens experiencing true life change through an encounter with Jesus.

Van Cura said, “Through Siouxland YFC, these teens are learning what it means to follow Christ. It’s not about just saying yes to Jesus, as there is so much more of an abundant life with Him. We are helping them grow and go deeper in their relationship with Christ and discover the joy of serving others.”

Youth For Christ has been a leader in missional youth outreach for more than seven decades and is dedicated to uncovering God’s story of hope in the next generation that desperately needs it. YFC reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ, and commitment to social involvement.

YFC chapters impact thousands of communities across the nation, seeking out and serving youth from all walks of life. Young people are silently struggling through a wide variety of challenging issues — and through the YFC ministry God empowers them and they see the living power of a loving God. YFC trains its leaders in a proven, relational ministry model called 3Story®, which encourages staff and volunteers to be good news while also sharing the stories of the Good News of Jesus. It involves building relationships through the ups and downs of everyday life to lead people to Christ.

YFC has been a pillar of missional ministry since 1944, when Dr. Billy Graham served as YFC’s first full-time staff member. Since then, Youth For Christ has continued to be both a rural and urban ministry on mission, and it is always about the message of Jesus. Youth For Christ operates in over 100 nations and has over 130 chapters that impact communities across America.

Visit the Youth For Christ media page here. Learn more about Youth For Christ at its website, www.yfc.netFacebook and Instagram pages, Twitter feed @yfcusa or on Vimeo.


To interview a Youth For Christ representative, contact, Daniel Moyer, 610.584.1096, ext. 104.